Area under wheat accounts for 14 per cent of the total gross cropped area. 18% of the net cropped area, 21 % of the area under foodgrains and 26% of the total area under cereals in the country. The area under wheat cultivation has increased from 97.46 lakh hectare in 1950-51 to 274 lakh hectares in 1999- 2000 showing a net increase of 181 % during the last 49 years.
This gain has been made possible at the expense of coarser rabi crops (barley, gram etc.) owing to increased irrigation facilities and profitability of wheat cultivation.
Wheat also contributed 34.2% of total production of food grains and 36.5% of the cereals in the country (2002-03). Its production has recorded per over 86 per cent of the India's wheat production comes from 5 states of Uttar Pradesh,Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh while three northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana together supply about 72 per cent of the country's wheat output.
These three states together occupy about 59 per cent of the country's wheat area. Of the 100 top ranking wheat producing districts of the country contributing 94% of nominal increase of 1070% between 1950-51 and 1999-00 and 103.9 lakh tones in 1965-66 (pre- Green Revolution time) rose to 238.32 lakh tones in 1970-71 and 756 lakh tones in 1999-2000 (Table 9.III) under the impact of Green Revolution. So much so that Green Revolution is synonym for wheat revolution in India enabling country not only to attain self sufficiency in food grains but also to generate some surplus for export.
Country's wheat outputs 65 belong to these three states. In fact wheat growing area of India occupies a continuous tract in the Satluj-Ganga plains from the Pakistan border in west to Bhagalpur (Bihar) in the east. Outside this main wheat producing region there is a secondary area in black soil tracts of the Deccan covering parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
Uttar Pradesh ranks first in area (36.58% of India) and production (36.27% of India) of wheat in the country. There has been impressive increase in wheat production from 42 lakh tones in 1961 -62 to 259.76 lakh tones in 1999-00 (518% increase). Most of the production comes from the areas of the Ganga-Yamuna Doab and the Rohilkhand plains. Out of 100 leading wheat producing districts (each with more than lakh tones of production), 43 belong to Uttar Pradesh and 19 to the western part of the state. Aligarh district is the leading producer contributing 1.3% of the total production of the country and 4 percent of Uttar Pradesh. Five leading producers of Aligarh, Bulandshahr, Meerut, Moradabad and Gorakhpur together supply 18.5 per cent of the state's wheat output. Other important districts include Muzaffarnagar,Mathura,Saharanpur, Deoria, Kanpur, Budaun, Agra and Etawah which have significant share in the wheat production of the state. In fact wheat is a popular crop in the entire area located west of Allahabad, Here canal and tube well irrigation, greater use of HYV seeds, fertilisers and new farm techniques have greatly favoured the cultivation of wheat amongst the farmers.
Punjab is the second largest producer of wheat in the country. With 13.58 per cent of the country's wheat area its contribution is 21.78 percent recoding the highest per hectare yield in India. This ispossible due to assured irrigation, higher agricultural inputs and adoption of new farm technology.
The state is characterised with the beginning of Green Revolution which led to phenomenal increase in wheat production. The production increased from 17 lakh tonnes in 1961-62 to 76.77 lakh tonnes in 1980-81 and 159.1 lakh tonnes in 1999-00 (recording an increase of 107% between 1961-62 and 1999-00).
Although wheat is grown in every district of the state butsix leading producers include Ludhiana, Sangrur, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Patiala and Amritsar which together contribute 66 per cent of the state's output of wheat. Ludhiana district with 12% contribution in Punjab and 2.6% in India is the leading producer of wheat in the country. Punjab has a large surplus of over 30 lakh tonnes annually which is transported to other parts of the country for consumption.
Haryana occupies third place in the wheat producing states of the Union. With 9.12% of the country's wheat area it contributes 14.12% of the national production of wheat. The state enjoys Punjab-like conditions in respect of wheat cultivation accounting for higher per hectare yield (4053 kg/ha).
The production of the crop has increased from 34.92 lakh tones in 1980-81 to 96.42 lakh tonnes in 1999- 00 (176%) increase during the last 19 years). Here the crop occupies 21 -30% of the gross cropped area in the districts of Kurukshetra, Karnal, Hissar, Gurgaon, Jind and Rohtak which together supply over two-third of the state's wheat produce. 18 percent in 1961-62 to 6.58% in 2002-03.
This is due to low per hectare yield which is one-third of Haryana and Punjab. This is also due to less fertile soil and lack of irrigational facilities. The wheat area has been almost static (25% increase between 1980- 81 and 1996-97) although production (from 31.44 lakh tones in 1980-81 to 73.84 lakh tones in 1996- 97) and yield (934 kg/ha in 1980-81 to 1756 kg/ha in 1996-97) have shown marked improvement. In Madhya Pradesh the wheat cultivation is popular in the area west of the line joining Katni and Jabalpur.
The north-western part of the state including the black soil area of Mai was Plateau is famous for wheat cultivation. Vidisha, Sagar, Raisen, Morena and Bhind districts together contribute over 27% of the state's wheat production. Other important districts includeGwalior, Sehore.Guna, Satna, Hoshangabad, Ujjain and Bhopal.
Rajasthan accounts for 7.24% of the total area and 7.49% of production of wheat in the country. The area under wheat cultivation has increased from 16.35 lakh tones in 1980-81 to 26.80 lakh tones in 1997-98 (increase 63.9%) due to expansion of irrigation facilities. Similarly, the production of the crop has also marked significant increase from 23.94 lakhtonnesin 1980-81 to 67.32 lakh tones in 1999- 00 (increase of 181.2%).
The Indira Gandhi Canal is boon for the expansion of wheat cultivation and improving its productivity. Ganganagar, Jaipur, Kota, Bharatpur and Alwar are important for wheat cultivation which together supply about half of the state's output. Ganganagar alone produces about 17% of the total wheat output of Rajasthan. Other important producers of the crop include Chittaurgarh, Tonk. Sawai Madhopur, Udaipur, Bhilwara and Pali districts. Ele ven of these dislricts find their place amongst 100 leading producers of the country.
Bihar contributes 8.7% of the total area and 6.33% of the total production of wheat in the country. During the last 16 years (1980-81 to 1996-97) the area under wheat has risen from 17.55 lakh hectares to 22.3 lakh hectares and production from 23.06 lakh tones to 44.09 lakh tones (91.2% increase).
In recent years there has been some decline in the area and output of the wheat in the state (in 1997-98 area 20.81 lakh ha. and production 41.59 lakh tones; in 1998-99 production 44.03 lakh tones and in 2002-03 production 41.23 lakh tones). Here Middle Ganga Plain in the northern Bihar is important for wheat cultivation. Rohtas, Bhojpur, Munger, Saran, and Begusarai together contribute one-third to the state's output of wheat. Other districts worth of mention include Gopalganj, East Champaran, Purnea. Patna, Muzaffarpur and Sahabad. The area under wheat decreases from west to east with the increasing humidity.
Gujarat accounts for 1.75% of the total aea and 1.32% of the total production of wheat in the country. Here Mehsana, Banaskantha, Rajkot and Kheda districts in the valleys of the Sabarmati and Mahi rivers are the main producers which together contribute about 55% of the state's production of wheat. Others include Ahmadabad, Sabarkantha, Bharuch, and Bhavnagar districts where 6 to 10 per cent of the cropped area is devoted to wheat cultivation.
Maharashtra contributes about 1.51% of the total wheat production of the country (area 3.06%). Here wheat crop is facing a tough competition from cotton, sugarcane and rice crops. The area under wheat has declined from 10.79 lakh hectares in 1980-81 to 7.60 lakh hectares in 2002-03 (decline of 30.8%) while the production has recorded a gain of 5.7% (from 9.31 lakh tones is 1980-81 to 9.84 lakh tones in 2002-03). Here Nagpur, Akola, Amravati, Aurangabad and Ahmednagar in the areas of the black cotton soils are the main producers.
Wheat cultivation also finds place in West Bengal (56 percent of production coming from five districts of Murshidabad, Nadia, Birbhum, West Dinajpur and Barddhaman), Himachal Pradesh (44 per cent of the state's production comi ng from Kangra, Mandi and Shimla districts), Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu, Baramula, Srinagar, Anantnag, Kathuaand Doda districts), Karnataka (Bijapur, Dharwar and Belgaum contributing 71 % of the state production), and Assam states.
After Green Revolution the phenomenal increase in wheat production has enabled India to become self sufficient in foodgrains. The country is presently exporting small quantity of wheat to Bangladesh and Russia. Within the country Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states are the surplus producers of the wheat, while Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar and Delhi are deficit states. About 45 per cent of the food grain is consumed in the growing areas and about 55 per cent comes to the market; about half of which is procured by the government for distribution through fair price system and maintain a buffer stock.
In order to maintain self sufficiency in matters of food grains and to provide healthy diet to its population India will have to increase the production of wheat in coming years.
The slower rate of increase in the yield of wheat in Punjab and Haryana is a matter of concern. This requires revitalisation in Green Revolution technology and putting more emphasis on improving wheat productivity in the states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and popularising its cultivation in non-traditional areas of West Bengal, Assam and Orissa.
Along with improving input facilities (quality seeds, fertilisers, irrigation, pesticides, farm machineries, credit facilities, transport, marketing and storage facilities etc.) there is a need to provide price incentives to the farmers, minimise post-harvest losses and develop wheat based efficient cropping system.